For the cool tree huggers

2011-08-19 16:27

Lexus has always been in a class of its own, but now Toyota’s premium brand has revealed a baby hatch to attract the young at heart.

The new CT200h hybrid hatchback might just steal VW Golf and Mazda3’s potential buyers with an even greener consciousness.

If you look quickly, the baby Lexus could pass for a Subaru Impreza – their rear looks are strikingly similar, and that’s clever as most young professionals look for a good-looking sporty car.

The CT200h is a luxury, compact hybrid and the fourth model in the Lexus hybrid line-up. And just because this is a compact hatch, it doesn’t mean it’s cheaper compared to its bigger siblings. But then again, it’s to be expected when a car comes with advanced hybrid technology and is packed with standard features. You pay for what you get; isn’t that the saying?

Two models are available in the form of the entry-level S model and the higher-spec F-Sport derivative.

The S model is equipped with a leather interior, dual-zone climate control with heated seats, electric mirrors, keyless start, 16-inch alloy wheels, automatic headlights with daytime running lights, a USB connectivity and Bluetooth with voice command.

The F-Sport is notably distinctive with its 17-inch alloy wheels, LED headlamps and a bigger boot spoiler. Inside, the car has sports seats and cruise control, along with front and rear performance dampers.

And if you still think this model isn’t quite enough, an optional convenience package is available for an extra R35 500.

This includes an upgraded sound system with four additional speakers and an amplifier, smart entry to unlock the doors without the key, rain-sensing wipers, colour monitor with hard drive-based navigation and voice command with remote touch, and a reverse camera.

Other than its looks, this five-door hatch has a lot more going for it with low efficiency outputs and very low fuel consumption readings.

Carbon dioxide emissions are only 94g/100km so no emissions tax. In addition, the fuel consumption has a claimed, combined average reading of only 4.1 l/100km.

During the launch, we had the pleasure of driving the F-Sport model and with some pretty hard driving through Muizenberg and Chapman’s Peak in Cape Town, the average fuel consumption was still a cool low at 6.4 l/100km.

Driving the car is relatively smooth and it sits well on curvy bends. But the top speed is only 180km/h – that more than suffices because it is a hybrid.

It’s built on a new platform with a lightweight bodyshell and sits close to the ground to give it that sporty stance.

The car runs either on a petrol engine or an electric motor, or even both at the same time. Under the bonnet there is the 1.8-litre VVT-i Atkinson petrol engine combined with the 60kW electric motor.

Together they kick out 100kW of total power. The petrol engine delivers 73kW and 142Nm of torque.

As with most hybrids, there are two driving moods to choose from – relaxing and dynamic – and with these comes four driving modes: normal, electric vehicle, eco and sport. When the car is in eco mode, the accelerator feels much softer and it helps when driving in congested traffic.

The instrument cluster, in this mode, lights up in blue with a hybrid power meter.

Changing to sport turns the cluster to bright red and the power metre transforms into a rev- counter just like the one in the über-sporty LF-A. The throttle becomes harder, and so sharpens steering and driving control.

In terms of safety, the car has eight airbags, ABS with electronic brake-force distribution and brake assist.

It also has vehicle stability control and traction control, ISO-Fix anchors in the rear and child locks.

A front passenger airbag deactivation switch ensures safety for all occupants.

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